Join me in Tibet!

Come join me this fall 2012 on a trip of a lifetime through the high plateau of Tibet.

I will be joining Sahale Travel out of Portland providing personal photo tips and timely suggestions. After a few days of sight seeing in China, we depart by train to Lhasa, home of the Potala Palace and other beautiful monasteries providing incredible cultural photo ops including the debating monks at Sera Monastery. Later we embark on a three day trek around the sacred peak, Mt Kailash, in Tibetan nomad country, and journey up close to Mt. Everest at the North Ridge base camp. Travel group will be a minimum of 6, no more than 10. Accommodations range from comfortable hotels in China to guest houses and rustic tent camping on the high plateaus of Tibet.

Potala Palace

Elevate your photographic skills!

Throughout the course of our trip, I will lend advice on techniques and strategies for capturing quality images in a travel environment. I will share my thoughts about the critical elements and considerations of what makes a compelling image including light, composition, creativity, lens choices, discipline, timing, and patience. It is my desire to elevate your casual snapshots to images that express your personal vision during the journey. I'm looking forward to sharing this incredible experience and helping you bring home great photo memories.

Please look over the intinerary below and follow up with Joe Whittington at for more information and registration details.



There are three trip options:



9/29/2012 Arrive Shanghai Our English speaking guide will meet us at the airport and transport us to our hotel, The Swan.

9/30/2012 Sightsee Shanghai After breakfast at the hotel, we will tour the Bund and French Concession.

10/1/2012 Sightsee Shanghai After breakfast at the hotel, we will tour the Pudong area.

10/2/2012 Fly to Xian (1,328'/405m) Our English speaking guide will meet us at the airport and transport us to our hotel, the Quest International.  Open time to tour many sights in the neighborhood.

10/3/2012 Sightsee Xian Sightseeing at Terra Cotta Warriors and Tomb of Emperor Jingdi.

10/4/2012 Hike to Summit of Hua Shan (7,085'/2,160m) Today we travel from Xian to the base of Hua Shan (Flower Mountain), one of the Taoist five Sacred Peaks in China.  This is a spectacular hike of about 5,000'/1,525m and 7 miles/12km to the Dongfeng Binguan Hotel on the East Peak. 

10/5/2012 View Sunrise from Hua Shan and return to Xian We'll rise early to be in position on the South Peak to observe the sunrise, then hike to the upper gondola station to descend to the base of the Mountain. We then return to Xian. The remaining time is open to wander around town as you wish.

10/6/2012 Train to Lhasa We leave Xian this morning for a 1,700 mile/2,800km journey to Lhasa (12,005'/3,660m), an increase in elevation of 10,680'/3,255m. Our 20 hour train ride takes us over the 16,636'/5,072m Tangu La (pass), making this the world's highest railway. Fantastic scenery and even wildlife sightings are highlights of the ride. Dining cars and restrooms are available and we will endeavor to obtain the best compartments available for our trip. Oxygen is available in the compartments, although taking the train (and not using the oxygen) provides some degree of acclimatization by the time we reach Lhasa.

Monks at Sera Monestary

10/7/2012 Arrive Lhasa (12,005'/3,660m) We will be met at the train station in the evening by our Tibetian guide and transported to our very comfortable hotel, the Dhood Gu. If you are flying in for this leg of the journey, you will be met by our Tibetan guide on arrival at Gonggar Airport in Lhasa. After immigration formalities, it's a 1.5-hour drive along the 56 mile/93 km road to Lhasa. Due to Lhasa’s altitude, it's a good idea to rest and take it easy for the remainder of the day.

10/8/2012 Sightseeing in Lhasa Our tour begins with a visit to SERA MONESTARY. An experienced tour guide, also working as an interpreter, escorts us to this preserved monastery of white-washed walls and golden roofs.  JOKHANG TEMPLE is another important sacred site which unravels more deep seated mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism. Visiting the BARKHOR MARKETS can be quite a change from other visits as we roam around the city savoring every tiny detail from stall hawkers coaxing their clients to purchase their goods to exhibits of Tibetan culture, customs, and tradition. The activities for the day conclude as we return to the comforts of our hotel.

10/9/2012 Sightseeing in Lhasa Today we visit the POTALA PALACE. The 17th century Potala Palace offers an awesome view of entire city and also has the private quarters of the Dalai Lama, plus numerous grand state rooms and chapels. After visiting the Potala Palce, we visit the DREPUNG MONASTERY. Ancient history has it that Drepung Monastery, which was built in 14th century used to shelter around 10,000 monks; there are only few hundred now. Tibetans’ spiritual beliefs are strongly connected with this monastery. To finish the day we tour the NORBULINGKA, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama.

10/10/2012 Depart Lhasa/Drive to Shigatse (12,600'/3,840m) Today, the members of our party finishing their trip in Lhasa will be transfered to the airport or continue with their next adventure. Those of us who are traveling to Kathmandu will board our land cruisers for the overland adventure portion of our trip.

We will travel to our first stop in Gyantse via the southern route passing by Yamdrog Tso (Lake) and Nakartse. Highlights are the GYANTSE DZONG (fortress) and KUMBUM. Gyantse Dzong is an old historical fort built in the 14th century and overlooking a stunning view of Gyantse and the surrounding Nyang Chu Valley. Kumbum has a large gold-domed stupa, several chapels, and Tibetan Buddhist murals. After exploring Gyantse, we drive 54 miles/90 km to Shigatse. Shigatse, at altitude of 12,792'/3900m, is the second largest city in Tibet. The TASHILHUNPO MONASTERY, one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet, is a major attraction.

10/11/2012 Drive Shigatse to Saga (15,088'/4,600m) Via Sakya Monastery From Shigatse, the road follows a route along the Brahmaputra River. The river valley stretches ahead and traditional picturesque villages come into view. This scenic drive provides plenty of opportunities for photography. From Saga, the track continues towards the northern route. After traveling 177 miles/295km, we reach an elevation of 15,088'/4,600m. Overnight in guest house.

10/12/2012 Drive Saga to Paryang (15,580'/4750m) On our 153 mile/255km drive from Saga to Paryang, we travel through the small dusty town of Zhongba with enchanting panoramic views. We stay in a lodge overnight in Paryang.

Mount Kailash

10/14/2012 Drive Paryang to Lake Manasarovar (14,957'/4,560m) Before arriving at Mount Kailash, we travel 162 miles/270km from Paryang to Lake Manasarovar through an extraordinary landscape. As we near this breathtaking sacred lake, the historic Chiu Monastery becomes visible on the NW shore of the lake. From this vantage point, we get a glimpse of majestic Mount Kailash. Overnight in a guest house.

10/14/2012 Drive Lake Manasarovar (14,957'/4,560m) to Darchen (14,957'/4,560m) We drive about 5 miles/30km to Darchen, the base camp for Mt. Kalish. Overnight in a guest house where we prepare for our kora.

10/15/2012 Kora - Darchen (14,957'/4,560m) to Dira-Puk Monastery (16,662'/5,080m) As stated in the Lonely Planet Guide, "The age-old pilgrims' path around Mt. Kailash is one of the world's great pilgrimages.... With a 18,466'/5,630m pass to conquer, this kora is a test of both the mind and spirit." Incredible scenary, interesting trekkers from all over the world, and intriging monasteries and artifacts are some of the highlights of this trek. We will be fully supported by our guides and our gear will be carried by yaks.  We have plenty of time to go at a comfortable pace, visiting the monasteries and points of interest, taking photographs and enjoying the journey. Today, starting at the southern slope, we trek on the western side of Mt. Kailash about 6 hours, ascending about 700'/200m over 12 miles/20km. Overnight in tent camp. Our tent camp will provide a welcome refuge each evening. Trekkers will sleep in two-person tents, our attentive and experienced support staff will prepare our meals in the kitchen tent and we will take our meals in a dining tent. A toilet tent is also provided. Sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and down jackets are available to rent for $5.00 per day on the trek.

10/16/2012 Kora - Dira-Puk Monastery to Zutul-Puk Monastery Starting beneath the dramatic black face of Mt. Kailash , we trek from the NW around the north side to our camp along the Dzong chu(river) on the eastern side of the Mountain. It will take us about 3-4 hours to make our way slowly over the Drolma-La (Tara Pass) (18,466'/5,630m). Crossing over the pass is considered a rebirth with the forgiveness of your sins. Unfortunately, the full benefit is only achieved after the 13th kora.  Today's trek will take 8-9 hours, ascending about 1,800'/550m, descending 1,970'/600m over 11 miles/18km. Overnight in tent camp.

10/17/2012 Kora - Zutul-Puk Monastery to Darchen Today's trek will take 3-4 hours, descending 500'/150m over 8.4 miles/14km. Lightened by the forgiveness of our sins and enlightened by our rebirth, we complete our Kora and yet another lifetime experience. Overnight in a guest house at Darchen.

10/18/2012 Drive Darchen to Saga (15,088'/4600m) Today we drive 330 miles/550km from Darchen to Saga and continue through a photogenic vista of steppes, desert dunes, lake, streams, and snow capped mountains. Overnight in guest house.


10/19/2012 Drive Saga to Tingri (13,610'/4,150m) Soon after leaving Saga, the road opens into a wide flat plain and passes by a huge turquoise lake, the Peiku-Tso, with a spectacular view of Shishapangma (26,329'/8027m) as the backdrop. We rejoin the Friendship Highway just south of Gutso and, enjoying views of Mt. Everest to the south, reach our guest house for overnight accommodation.

10/20/2012 Drive to Rongbuk (16,400'/5,000m) / Visit Everest Base Camp and continue to Sakya (14,156'/4,316m) This morning we have the opportunity to explore Everest Base Camp (EBC) (16,892'/5150m). The base camp itself is dry and barren, but the views of Everest more than compensate for it. It truly is an awe-inspiring place with the sheer north face of the highest mountain in the world towering above you. After our visit to EBC, we will continue to the SAKYA MONESTARY constructed in 1073. Overnight in guest house in Sakya.

10/21/2012 Drive Sakya to Lhasa We drive north to reach the Friendship Highway just east of Lhatse and continue east to return to Lhasa.  Overnight at the Dhood Gu Hotel.

10/22/2012 Lhasa Depart for home. Transport will be provided to the Gonggar Airport.

To sign-up or for more information, send an e-mail or call Joe Whittington at 503 297-6344 (Sahale Travel office) or 503 706-2195 (mobile). You can also use our Online Secure Sign-up Form.



Joe Whittington

Joe Whittington, President of Sahale Travel & Trekking, is a native Oregonian and an experienced world traveler. Since his first summit of Mt. Hood in 1978, he has climbed throughout the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as Japan, Africa, South America, Nepal, and Borneo. He has summitted 49 of the US State highpoints and climbed to over 19,000' on Denali in Alaska.

He is a climb leader and instructor for the Mazamas Mountaineering Club, a certified Wilderness First Responder, a PADI certified Open Water Diver, and an AHA CPR/First Aid instructor. Joe is also a member of the American Alpine Club, the Wilderness Medical Society, and the American Mountain Guides Association. He and all of the Sahale Travel & Trekking leaders love traveling to exotic places and and sharing them with you in a culturally appropriate and environmentally responsible style.

Peter Marbach

Peter Marbach has successfully combined his love for the natural world with his passion for photography.  Peter ‘s evocative landscapes reflect time spent working with light at the edges of day. He has produced five photo essay book projects and enjoyed commercial success with clients including National Geographic, Nike, Sunset, Country, Alaska Airlines, USDA, Travel Oregon and more. From Joe, "We are especially privileged to have Peter as our co-leader on this trip. We will see extraordinary and wonderful things - scenery, people, and and cultural architecture. Peter will be at our elbow to assist us in capturing the best photgraphs of our life." full bio